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Mall Walker

Since I’ve started this job, I’ve gone for a long walk every day during my lunch three-hours. The campus is fairly huge, and it’s full of manufactured hills and shit, so I’ve done a few laps around my building and its parking lot, walking in the grass for maximum uphill-downhill workouts. A week or two ago it snowed, but the ground wasn’t cold so most of it melted by the time I got out there. A few weeks ago it was fairly cold and very windy, so I barely made it around once. Otherwise, I’ve had no problems. Until today.

Today it was cold. According to the thermometer in my car, it was 1° at noon. It snowed a bit on Saturday, so nothing has melted. One of my coworkers—who also walks around during her lunch—approached me today to discuss the weather situation. I told her I probably wouldn’t be able to walk; it’s just too cold. She agreed, then said, “Well, you could always go walk around the mall.”

That…actually wasn’t such a terrible idea. I contemplated it for a little while: am I really ready to take the plunge reserved only for retirees and confused shoppers? Would this be humiliating, or not too much because there would be so many people in the mall at that time of day? Although, with all those damn shoppers, will I actually be able to walk at a quick enough pace to get any real exercise? Maybe I should go someplace that’s also large, and indoors, but not quite so crowded. There’s a Target up the street that I run to sometimes on my lunch hour, and it’s virtually deserted. And pretty huge. If I went down there and walked around like an idiot, chances are nobody would notice that I was making a continuous loop around the main perimeter.

I kept thinking about this, even as I made the drive to Target. I started thinking about the possible humiliation of an employee noticing and calling me out. “Can I help you find something? No? THEN STOP WALKING AROUND IN A CIRCLE.” Not that this would ever happen, necessarily, but in my mind the possibility of public humiliation is far more terrifying than the inevitable actual humiliation (which occurs, roughly, seven times a day).

I got out of my car, and it seemed relatively wind-free, and, despite being 1°, it didn’t feel very cold. So, I decided, fuck going inside. I’ll just walk around the creepy semi-gated community behind the store and hope that nobody in one of the giant houses thinks I’m a hobo and calls the cops.

But the walk was pretty much uneventful, and the neighborhood was deserted. Unlike my neighborhood, which is teeming all day long with the varied activities of the chronically unemployable, the people in these gargantuan homes clearly had jobs.

And yet, the walk was nice and peaceful. Nobody driving like assholes through a nonexistent corporate parking lot; nobody else walking around and giving me funny looks because they’re walkiing to another building and I’m walking in a huge circle; no fight-or-flight instincts whenever I see a security truck drive by and instinctively assume they’re coming to chase me down for being some sort of Interloper. And no questions and strange looks when I come back from lunch red-faced and sweaty.

I doubt I will ever set foot in the mall to walk, but…I may make this strange neighborhood my permanent walk location.

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